The examples below allow for a comparison between an excerpt of electroacoustic music as produced by the composer and its pre-mastered version. By clicking on the composer’s name, you can read “before and after” comments about the work done on each excerpt. The files you will be downloading are in 16-bit / 44.1 kHz AIFF format.
- The Practice of Mastering in Electroacoustics [pdf] by Dominique Bassal
- A Guide to Producing Stems [pdf] by Dominique Bassal
" Orphan Excerpt " to be included in a future composition.
- Problems: Aggressive in the hi-mids, this passage also suffers from its slightly exuberant bass. The whole gives an impression of thinness and of frequential discontinuity.
- Pre-mastered Version: Due to better spread-out mids and better control of the bass, the whole now enjoys a superior cohesion. The effect is richer and more dramatic.
- Problems: From the beginning, the insistence of the lo-mids in this excerpt is an irritating factor, further aggravated by the appearance around 0:40 of piercing elements in the hi-mids. Bass frequencies from 30 to 120 Hz are literally absent.
- Pre-mastered Version: The lo-mids are still insistent, but less irritating. The controlled increase in bass frequencies reveals details that had previously been inaudible, like the impressive descending motion at 0:58. As for the high frequencies, highlighting them succeeds at unearthing the events beginning at 0:43. The whole is more dynamic, and offers greater depth and more detail, without compromising the carnivorous ambience.
DUO (Presence II / Cache 2000)
- Problems: constructed around a recording of saxophone, from its opening this piece presents four major problems: (1) a limitation in the frequency range, which confers an artificial, dry and oppressive rendering of the instrument; (2) an excess in the hi-mids, which is responsible for the aggressive aspect of the listening experience; (3) a dynamic range which is far too wide- on the order of 50 dB- making the softest passages virtually inaudible in the majority of listening situations; and finally (4) the lack of any room ambience whatsoever, responsible for a one-dimensional impression, with insufficient life and a completely flattened image.
- Pre-mastered Version: the first two problems were solved, as far as it was possible to do, by suitable equalization. The saxophone seems more alive, fuller and suppler. The remaining items remained controversial, since the composers intervention during the mastering session significantly limited the mastering engineers scope of action. The latter considers problem (3) to have been only minimally addressed by an increase of at most 2 dB, at times less: the passages that were inaudible before remain so. In this context, it was not possible to even consider the question of reverberation.
I was very safe… in my dream (Presence III)
- Problems: The sound of this piece, based on recordings of childrens voices, lacks the freshness necessary for the effective reproduction of its main subject. Some confusion also arises, primarily in the lo-mids, caused in part by an overly pronounced difference in dynamic between the few dominant muffled knocks microphone manipulation noise - and the rest of the sonic material.
- Pre-mastered Version: the very high frequencies were raised, restoring their authenticity in the childrens voices. Cleaning up the frequencies around which were concentrated the reflections from the recording location transformed the earlier confusion into a succession of atmospheres in turn festive and intimate. The dynamic range, which was slightly compressed, now presents a narrative framework made of events in which the contrasts and proportions are markedly more credible.
tiré de « Mirror of Time » (Presence III)
- Problems: this piece seems entirely made up of sampled instrumental sounds, and we feel it here, accentuated by the multiplication of layers, the omnipresent "colour" afflicted by, among other things, the limitations of the D/A convertors of the sampler used. The midrange frequencies seem in excess throughout the excerpt, and even if the second part is more pleasant overall, it suffers in addition from an excess between 6 and 7 kHz. The percussion is timid, and the transpositions downwards, into registers exceeding the ranges of the original instruments, are responsible for a dullness in the bass frequencies, particularly perceptible from 1:25 onwards.
- Pre-mastered Version: The first part is much more detailed and open. The bass in the second part is now more present and better defined. The accentuation of the dynamic, particularly before the burst found in the middle of the excerpt, contributes to an impression of a more "acoustic" ensemble; the "sample" effect is diminished, for our greater listening comfort.
- Problems: As soon as the initial "punch" has passed, the dynamics of this excerpt become static, indeed flat. Numerous details are just barely suggested, without us succeeding at associating this discretion with an intentional delicacy on the part of the composer. The effort required to identify these details seems disproportionate, and the listener quickly gives up. In addition, the restricted frequency range does not seem in accord with the imagery, touched with gigantism, suggested by the sounds in themselves.
- Pre-mastered Version: This excerpt was delivered in "stems", which allowed for work which was both more in depth and less taxing on the overall frequency signature of the original. Numerous unsuspected elements now see the light of day, such as the bass frequency explosions at 0:22 and 0:36. The crescendo beginning at 0:35 is both more impressive and more detailed. The very low bass frequencies now play in full the structuring role that they only seemed intended to fulfil in the original version.